Maybe it's because there is a feeling of guilt way down inside, or maybe it's a "get off my lawn" situation, but boy do folks our parents' age get heated when anyone talks about things our parents did in the '80s and '90s that are big no-nos now. I mean, I don't blame y'all, and obviously most of us turned out OK, but there are some huge safety things that are actually really important that aren't contributing to the "wussification of America," or whatever the heck people are calling it these days.
I mean, there have been scientific studies done to prove how doing (or not doing) these things is actually better and safer for kids. Statistically, the rates of SIDs has gone down and more children have been safe in car accidents. Just because your kid didn't die in the car without a car seat doesn't mean other people's kids did not during this time — and in high quantities. Or just because your kid didn't die when they slept on their belly doesn't mean many, many kids didn't. Statistically showing, SIDs rates have gone down and our kids are thriving now.
But it's still funny to think about some of the stuff us '80s and '90s kids were allowed to do that we probably wouldn't let our own kids do. And no offense, Mom and Dad, I know y'all were and still are the best parents — and I think I did turn out OK for the most part — but I will continue to put my child in the proper car seat rear-facing until he hits the proper weight limit, among other things.
1. Smoking With Your Kids In The Car
My dad’s a smoker, and I remember he never really smoked in the car with me (he would always get out to smoke or wait until I wasn’t around), but my friend’s parents would smoke with the windows up while we were in the backseat of their van. Yikes. So while it’s still not officially illegal in all 50 states, many states — including Virginia, Utah, Louisiana, Maine, Arkansas, California, Oregon, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and Guam — have started implementing a law making it illegal to smoke with minors in the vehicle.
Dr. Natasha Sriraman, professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, tells Romper to tell adults you know who are smokers that there should be no smoking in the car with your children in there because of the dangers of secondhand smoke.
And honestly, parents back then seemed to smoke everywhere with us.
2. Newborns Sleeping On Bellies & Sides
I know for a fact my parents, and pretty much everyone’s parents who are my age, laid us all on our bellies to sleep right from the hospital. I hear about it all the time on Facebook, and I’m sure I will hear it in the comments on this article, too. My mom said it was because the doctors at the time told her it would help prevent us from drowning in spit-up. Now that’s definitely a hard no-no. “Do not put your baby on their tummy to sleep. While I have many grandparents tell me they did this all the time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies should be put on their backs to sleep. This greatly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),” Sriraman says.
In fact, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), “The largest decline in SIDS rates occurred between 1992 and 1999. Between 1994, when the Safe to Sleep campaign (formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign) started, and 1999, the overall SIDS rate in the United States dropped by more than 50 percent. During that same time period, the rates of back sleeping more than doubled.” Most parents now follow the “ABCs of safe sleep” – Alone, Back, Crib, says Sriraman.
3. All Juice Was Considered Healthy
“Remember when we drank juice and soda freely back in the ‘80s? Unfortunately, as pediatricians, we are seeing the repercussions of excess sugar in toddlers,” says Sriraman. “The rates of pediatric obesity have reached epidemic proportions. In fact, in the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. In addition to obesity, pediatric dentists are seeing higher rates of tooth decay and cavities. In fact, 42 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had tooth decay in their primary teeth.”
4. Riding Without Helmets
Much to my mom's dismay, I did this all. the. time. But now pediatricians are really cracking down on this, according to Sriraman. "I remember riding my bike all over my neighborhood without a helmet. Now we recommend that all children — whether they are on a bike, scooter, or skateboard — they need to wear a helmet to protect their brains. Wearing a helmet greatly reduces the risk of a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and death."
5. Riding In The Back Of A Pickup Truck
Again, much to my parent's dismay, I would ride in the back of my neighbor's parent's truck to go to DQ for an ice cream. He'd be going 70 miles per hour and we'd be hanging in the back — but we did lie down because it was so windy, not because this was dangerous beyond belief or anything. According to the AAA website, driving laws now prohibit this act for minors under 18. "Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for persons under 18 or if the vehicle is traveling more than 35 mph; some other exceptions apply," the website noted.
6. Not Using Car Seats Or Using Them Improperly
Which brings me to another aspect of vehicles and kids: the car seat. My god have we come a long way in the carseat department from when I was a kid. I have seen pictures of what was basically a piece of scrap metal that was strapped into the backseat of my mom's van. Hey, that's what they were selling and recommending at the time, so I don't blame her. We also didn't have any of this booster seat stuff either.
Sriraman says, "I still remember the stories of me sitting in the car on a road trip to Florida without a car seat! Even from the time my oldest was born 17 years ago, car seat recommendations have changed. Putting children in the back seat with seat belt is no longer enough. Children up to the age of 2 should be placed in a rear-facing car seat, with children up to the age of 4 (and 40 pounds) in a car-restraint system. Children up to the age of 8 (and 80 pounds) should be in a booster seat."